But you will receive power (δύναμιν) when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses (μάρτυρες) in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1: 8)

Here the Lord shares two crucial bits of information with His disciples about “witnessing” to Him, or “martyrdom”: 1. It begins with receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, and 2. It begins in their immediate surroundings, i. e., Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria.

Today, when I am both blessed and horrified by news of Christian martyrdom in countries far away from me, I am reminded that the Lord calls all of us to be His “witnesses” much closer to home, in the here and now. He also reminds me that the “power” (δύναμις) to be His witness does not come from me, nor does it begin with my picking up a sign and marching with it angrily in the street. That just makes me an angry Christian with a sign. Being His witness begins with opening my heart, on a daily basis, to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and sharing these gifts, in my daily routine and behaviour, in my immediate surroundings. It means walking with Him, and in Him, and not obscuring His light through my own agenda, fears, and anger.

So let me not be a mere spectator today of Christian “witness” or “martyrdom.” Let me let His light into my heart, so that I can be His witness in the way He calls me to be: in and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

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